Here’s When You Likely Need to Get a Lawyer
It’s likely that at some point in our lives, we’ll need legal help. If you’re one of the over 875,000 divorce cases every year in the United States, a divorce lawyer is likely needed, especially if a substantial amount of property or assets needs to be divided. Personal injury cases, trusts and wills, and adoptions also all usually require legal assistance. And it’s almost always better to have a professional guiding you when it comes to property or anything else that involves contracts, laws, or things that are legally binding. In short, there are many instances in your life where you’ll need to engage the services of a lawyer you trust. So how do you find a lawyer who you feel comfortable dealing with? In what cases do you absolutely need to retain a lawyer? What are the advantages of having a lawyer on your side?
Why Do I Even Need a Lawyer?
If you’re involved in a more traumatic or emotionally involved case (say a divorce, personal injury case, or a felony), an objective perspective can be helpful, and a lawyer will be able to handle all the ins and outs of your case. For most people, “legalese” is tough to decipher, and even more so when your mind is already on other things.
Your lawyer can keep ahead of deadlines, handle paperwork and filing, and advise you on the best course of action to pursue. They’ll make sure that things are moving ahead and can represent your interests with the other party’s legal counsel as well.
Essentially, retaining a lawyer means that your legal interests are always represented and looked after, and you have the information you need to make accurate decisions upfront.
When Do I Absolutely Need to Get a Lawyer?
If you’re working with a small claims court or decide to go the route of an alternative dispute resolution, you might not need a lawyer. In most cases, though it’s best to get a lawyer.
In perhaps the most extreme example, if you’ve been convicted of a crime, you definitely should have a lawyer there to represent your interests. In any case, if you could face jail time, it’s time to start calling around to law firms.
A lawyer is also imperative if you feel too overwhelmed or that you can’t make adequate and informed decisions by yourself, or if you could lose a lot of money, property, or assets. If the other party has a lawyer, it’s also a signal that you should probably lawyer up yourself.
Anything that involves contracts or a business deal should likely be overseen by a lawyer as well, to make sure that everything is airtight and to forestall any future possible issues. Estate planning — or anything to do with property, adoption, or a particularly difficult divorce should also involve a lawyer to make sure things are done right and in the first and last case, that any tax issues are taken care of appropriately.
How Do I Find a Lawyer I Like?
One of the best ways to find a lawyer is via recommendations from family, friends, or colleagues. They can likely recommend you to someone they’ve worked with before and had a good experience with, or someone they’ve heard has a good reputation. Even if the lawyer you meet with initially via a recommendation can’t help you, they may know someone in their network who could assist, and offer a referral.
If that route doesn’t pan out, consider calling your local bar association or checking online to see who in your area specializes in the area you need help with. Always meet with the lawyer face to face (most offer a free initial consultation) to see if you click in person.
Being able to trust your lawyer is imperative, and so you want to make sure you can have a good working relationship with them and feel comfortable around them.
In most cases, it’s better to err on the side of caution and hire a lawyer. You don’t want to find out deep into legal proceedings that you should have had one all along!